The Fallacy of Putting Things Off

There is never enough time or money; this much is said. The fallacy of putting things off is exposed in studies by Dr. Gal Zauberman of UNC and Dr. John Lynch of Duke. They found that future expenditures of time are always psychologically discounted – that is, a future disbursement of time seems to be worth less than an outlay of time in the present. This makes it easier for people to volunteer for time-consuming activities if they are told they do not have to do it right away.

Even though rationally that an hour today is just as long as an hour a month from now or a year from now. There is no reason to believe that they will have any more spare time a month or a year from now than they do today.  Yet somehow putting something off seems to make taking on something easier.  And when the time comes, as inevitably happens, that future day turns out to be just as busy as today. Yet, people seem to learn little from the experience.

The most successful people I know never put off an opportunity until tomorrow. They are not delusional about the things they have to and want to accomplish. They recognize the immediate value of doing something today and MAKE it fit into their schedule because they know that the future is going to be just as busy as the present. They make the time right because they know that what they will get out of opportunities today will open up possibilities for the future.

By putting off what is available today may not be available in the future or nothing will change. They stay in status quo or worse, things take a slide because they weren’t properly tooled or skilled for what life throws at them.

The same applies to money.  Money is an interesting belief system. There are people who find money to do things that are important to them. There is always a way to make the money work.

Dr. Shu and Dr. Gneezy, other researchers in this procrastination phenomena, found that once you start procrastinating the things that can bring you the most value, it becomes self-perpetuating process if you fixate on some imagined nirvana. The longer a person waits, the less likely they will take control and use the gift certificate, cash in the miles, take advantage of what is available right now. It becomes a habit that long-term can cause a great deal of regret.


The world if full of people who put things off and they wake up 10 years later and they find themselves having not made the progress they thought they would.  With 30 years of experience in teaching the enlightened skills for communication and behavior – the patterns of successful achievement – people who put off their own growth are putting off being the best they can be.  They are saying, I’m not ready for the life I say I want.

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